Chicken/ Finger Food/ Spice

Spicy Chicken Tenders

June 9, 2019

These Spicy Chicken Tenders are ridiculously delicious! Chicken strips marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce, then deep fried for extra crispiness. Need I say more?

I mean we could totally just leave it at that, but I guess you’re gonna need some sort of recipe right? Well, without further ado, let’s get straight into it…

overhead shot of chicken tenders resting on a wire rack, focus on one tender surrounded by the rest.

Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

Like all good fried chicken recipes, these bad boys start with a buttermilk marinade.

Buttermilk is great for a few reasons. Firstly, it allows you to easily coat the chicken with flour (unlike eggs which are far more likely to go clumpy). Secondly, it’s slightly acidic, meaning it penetrates and tenderises the chicken as it marinates.

Because who doesn’t want tender chicken tenders?

The spicy buttermilk marinade here is actually really simple.

How to make a Spicy Chicken Tender Marinade

  1. Combine buttermilk, hot sauce, white pepper and salt.
  2. Mix in chicken strips.
  3. Cover and marinate for as long as you have time for. Preferably overnight, with an absolute minimum of 2 hours.

How to make a spicy chicken marinade - 3 step by step photos

Spicy Chicken Breading

Okay, so we’ve got a nice kick of spice from the hot sauce in the marinade, now let’s talk flour breading.

The main heat here comes from cayenne pepper. Alongside onion & garlic powder and paprika, these tenders result in a gorgeous burst of flavour.

No eggs needed and no double dipping. Just a light (but thorough) coating of flour does the trick!

How to coat Spicy Chicken Tenders

  1. Add flour and spices to a tray (or a bowl).
  2. Combine until fully blended.
  3. Add one chicken strip at a time.
  4. Fully coat, ensuring you cover every spec of the chicken.
  5. Rest on a wire rack until ready to deep fry.

How to make crispy chicken tenders - 5 step by step photos

Deep Fried Chicken Tenders

Unfortunately/fortunately (which ever way you look at it) to get the true KFC style crispy chicken, it’s deep frying all the way.

Hey, nobody said these were healthy 😂

Whilst you’re here, why not check out my other recipes?

Deep Fried Recipes

stone slab with chicken strips, chips and dip on top. Holding one chicken strip above the slab with focus on that.

What to serve with Chicken Tenders?

These are also perfect as an appetizer with a yummy dip! Here I’ve served with Sriracha-Lime Mayo, but here’s some other ideas:

Okay, let’s tuck into this Spicy Chicken Tenders recipe shall we!?

dunking a chicken tender into sriracha mayo in a white bowl.

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How to make Spicy Chicken Tenders (Full Recipe & Video)

closeup of chicken tender with a few more in the background

Spicy Fried Chicken Tenders

These Spicy Chicken Tenders are ridiculously delicious! Chicken strips marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce, then deep fried for extra crispiness. Need I say more?
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Finger Food, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Servings: 16 tenders
Calories: 130

Ingredients

  • 1.3lb / 600g Chicken Breasts, sliced into strips (one breast should get around 5-6 strips)
  • 3-4 cups / 750ml - 1 litre Oil, for deep frying (see notes)

Marinade

  • 1 cup / 250ml Buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup / 60ml Hot Sauce (I use Frank's)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp White Pepper

Dry Mix

  • 1 3/4 cups / 225g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1.5 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp each: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Baking Powder, Salt

Instructions

  • Combine your chicken with the marinade, cover and place in the fridge for as long as you have time for. Preferably overnight, absolute minimum 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, combine all of your dry mix. I find this easiest in a small tray, but you could also use a bowl. One by one, coat your chicken strips in the dry mix, making sure you cover every spec of chicken. Press the mix right into the chicken so it goes nice and flaky. Place on a wire wrack and repeat.
  • Heat up your oil to around 350f/175c. To test without a thermometer, drop a tiny piece of batter in the oil, if it very slowly rises to the top, you should be good to go. A medium heat for around 5-8 minutes should obtain this.
  • Working in batches of 3-4, carefully place your strips into the oil. Separate them with tongs if the instantly stick together, then leaves for 3-4mins until they start turning golden. Flip over and leave for another few minutes until deep golden and visibly crispy. If your oil is too hot simply pour in more oil/turn down heat. If you're not confident with deep frying then test one strip first.
  • Place on a wire rack with a tray or paper towel underneath. Enjoy with a dip!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes

a) Spice Level - the 1/4 cup hot sauce and 1.5 tsp cayenne pepper give these tenders a nice kick of spice. Nothing too drastic, but definitely apparent. As everyone's spice preference is different, if you're concerned then use 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper in the mix, test with one tender, and adjust accordingly if you want more. This way you won't spoil the whole batch with them being too spicy. Much easier to add spice than remove it.
b) Oil - You want to use an oil with a high smoking point with a neutral flavour to it, like vegetable or sunflower oil. Do not use olive oil.
c) When is the Chicken Cooked? - Ensure the chicken is white all the way through the centre, piping hot, with the juices running clear. The safe internal temp of chicken is 165f/75c.
d) Calories - It's really tricky to calculate deep fried recipes, but the below stats are based on the following: 1/2 cup buttermilk stuck on, 3/4 cup flour stuck and 1.5 tsp oil absorbed during cooking. Calories per tender.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Spicy Fried Chicken Tenders
Amount Per Serving
Calories 130 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 7.98g12%
Saturated Fat 5.824g29%
Trans Fat 0.005g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.331g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.066g
Cholesterol 27mg9%
Sodium 128mg5%
Potassium 154mg4%
Carbohydrates 5.28g2%
Fiber 0.3g1%
Sugar 0.45g1%
Protein 9.24g18%
Vitamin A 500IU10%
Vitamin C 0.8mg1%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart!

For the perfect pairing to these chicken tenders, check out my Crispy Oven Baked Fries!

Crispy Oven Baked Fries with dip, fresh rosemary and sea salt

If you loved this Spicy Chicken Tenders recipe then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Sally
    June 10, 2019 at 1:36 am

    WOW! These look amazing! Marinating the chicken in buttermilk is a new concept for me, but it makes perfect sense. Bookmarking your site and printing recipe for making very soon. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      June 10, 2019 at 10:59 am

      Awesome! Enjoy 🙂

  • Reply
    Raia Todd
    June 9, 2019 at 11:32 pm


    Mmmmm… those chicken tenders look perfect! I’m totally drooling all over my keyboard. Haha.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      June 10, 2019 at 10:59 am

      Haha! Missions accomplished!

  • Reply
    Kristine
    June 9, 2019 at 11:32 pm


    Flavorful and delicious is how I would describe this recipe! Made these for a family party and everyone LOVED them, thanks!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      June 10, 2019 at 10:58 am

      That’s so great to hear! So happy they went down well 🙂

  • Reply
    Tayo
    June 9, 2019 at 10:20 pm


    Oh my, this looks so good! Can’t wait to make this for my kids. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      June 10, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Enjoy!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sunrita
    June 9, 2019 at 8:58 pm


    Love the clever idea of soaking the chicken strips in buttermilk. I am sure it comes out really succulent.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      June 10, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Oh yes! So juicy and tender!

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